SCOTUS Approves State Tuition Aid For Students To Attend Religious Schools

People gather outside the Supreme Court building as the court hears oral arguments in the Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue case in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger.

This opinion just came down, and I haven’t had an opportunity to read it, and probably won’t until tomorrow.  In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the justices held that the application of the Montana Constitution’s “no-aid” provision to a state program providing tuition assistance to parents who send their children to private schools discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them, in violation of the free exercise clause.  This was a straight conservatives vs. liberals majority, and Chief Justice Roberts, much maligned of late, wrote the majority opinion. The Washington Post  reports,

Chief Justice John G. Roberts …said the Montana Supreme Court was wrong to strike down the program because of a provision in the state constitution that forbids public funds from going to religious institutions. The U.S. Constitution’s protection of religious freedom prevails, he said.

“A state need not subsidize private education,” Roberts wrote. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.

Again, I haven’t read the legal arguments, but the ethical justification for the opinion is clear. If public schools could be trusted not to indoctrinate students with political view and social positions that their parents might oppose, the urgency of the state providing affordable alternatives would be far less. However, alert and involved parents realize, or should, that by sending students to public schools, they are too often subjecting them to partisan and ideological brain-washing, and we are seeing the results in the streets as I write this. There need to be alternatives other than home-schooling. The ethics principles here are fairness, respect, and autonomy. Continue reading

Washington Post Editor Karen Attiah, The Human Smoking Gun

The above tweet was posted two days ago by Karen Attiah, the Washington Post  global opinions editor. After it was immediately and legitimately attacked for what it was—yes, this is res ipsa loquitur— she took it down, but not before her position had been captured in hundreds of screenshots like the one above. Later she tweeted, “Non, je ne regrette rien,” French for “No, I do not regret anything.” (Apparently Attiah believes the foes of unethical journalism are too primitive and uneducated to understand French, or too dim to use an online translator.)

The Washington Post should have given her reason to regret, but it hasn’t, and unless its readers and media critics force the paper to act, it won’t. Since the deleted tweet, the Post has refused to comment on its editor’s outburst, and other than her snotty Gallic tweet of defiance, so has Attiah. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Nightcap, 6/29/2020: Fake Blackface, Fake News, Mississippi Stalling [#3 UPDATED ]

Good night!

1. Well, there’s blackface, then there’s dark make-up, then there’s stuff that idiots might think is blackface, as well as what someone may get offended over because they think it’s kind of like blackface—oh, what the hell, let’s ban it all. In a 1988 episode of “The Golden Girls,”  Dorothy’ son, Michael, who is white like his mother (played by the imposing, also white, Bea Arthur) is planning on marrying Lorraine, a much older black woman. Dorothy objects to the love birds’ age difference while Lorraine’s mother disapproves of Michael’s race, saying, “No daughter of mine is marrying some skinny white boy.” Then flighty  Rose (Betty White) and sex-obsessed Blanche (Rue McClanahan) interrupt the potential in-laws show-down by walking into the room wearing their mud facial masks.

Rose stammers: “This is mud on our faces; we’re not really black!”

“The Golden Girls” was a consistently liberal-tilting show, and the episode was obviously making fun of racial sensitivities. Never mind. Hulu has pulled it.
Continue reading

Van Jones’ Unforgivable Sin: Acting Like An American

 Two weeks ago Van Jones appeared on CNN’s “Inside Politics with John King” and “Anderson Cooper 360” to enthusiastically commend President Trump’s executive order regarding police reform.  This, of course, is high treason to the Democratic Party/”resistance”/ Mainstream media collective, to which Jones has triple membership. Nothing this President does, according to the Axis of Unethical Conduct’s by-laws, is ever anything better than stupid, dangerous,  or impeachable. The executive order was criticized as cynical and unproductive by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and “delusional” by the Color of Change, a racial spoils organization that Jones  co-founded in 2005.

I might have  given Jones some integrity points, had I not made up my mind about him long ago. Check the Ethics Alarms dossier on Jones: my 2014 description of his agenda as “fear-mongering, racial distrust and division” was and usually is fair. Then ” a knowledgeable White House source” revealed that Van Jones and California human rights attorney Jessica Jackson, who runs #cut50, a prison-reform group Jones also founded, worked with law enforcement officials and White House staffers (like the hated Jerod Kushner) to develop the policy measure. Jones was praising an action that he had been directly involved in, without informing the  CNN audience of  his conflict of interest. When he was accused of working on the order, Jones vehemently denied it.

His conduct and denials were dishonest and unethical, but it’s now apparent why Jones kept the secret he is now being attacked for. He knows his team. It’s not the conflict of interest; politicians and journalists don’t care about conflicts of interest unless they can be used to get rid of other politicians and journalists that they don’t like (“Emoluments!!!!”), and the average member of the public literally has no comprehension  of what  conflicts are and why they are unethical.

No, Van Jones knew he would be crucified—-and now is facing  cultural cancellation and shunning because he assisted the President of the United States! The Horror!

Continue reading

The SCOTUS Decision In June Medical Services v. Russo

This post just leapt over several others because the case was just announced.

The Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, enacted in 2014, requires physicians performing abortions in Louisiana to have the right to admit patients to a hospital within thirty miles of the place where the abortion is performed. The law is virtually identical (as today’s opinion points out) to a Texas law that the Court held in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was unconstitutional four years ago by a vote of 5-3. In a vote that will have conservative bloggers’ heads exploding  like fireworks, Chief Justice John Roberts, who had been among the dissenters in the Texas case, joined the four liberals in ruling that the Louisiana law is also unconstitutional, while saying that he still believes that the Texas case was wrongly decided.

The decision is here. SCOTUS Blog’s coverage is here.

I won’t comment on the dissents—-there are several—because I haven’t read them yet.  (But I would bet my head that Justices Alito and Thomas essentially recycled their previous objections to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. ) However, I wrote at length about the Texas case in 2016, and upon reviewing it, I see nothing substantially different from what I would conclude about today’s decision. in both cases, it seems clear that the state was using a pretextual safety measure to restrict abortions as much as possible.  Then I wrote, Continue reading

Ethics Dunce AND Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Hancock, Maryland Mayor Ralph Salvagno [Corrected]

This would be unethical if a child did it. For a town’s mayor to do it would be head explosion-worthy, except that the behavior of municipal leaders during the George Floyd Freakout has been so constantly outrageous that it has raised the bar for “Kabooms.”

I guess that’s a silver lining.

Ralph Salvagno, the mayor of Hancock, Maryland, (population 1500 or so) painted over two images of the Confederate battle flag in a privately-owned mural on a wall outside the Town Tavern.

“I think I did the right thing,”said Salvagno.

He’s wrong, and he’s also an idiot.

Though the mural was in bad shape even before Salvagno’s vandalism, its message is no more and no less than that there was an American Civil War. See those triangles pointing in on the two flags in the drawing? They mean that the North and the South were fighting each other. The flags of the opposing sides symbolize the Union and the Confederacy. The artwork (and there are hundreds of similar, if better, such paintings) tells onlookers that there was an American Civil War, and, you know, there was. In addition to preserving the United States of America, that horrible conflict also ended slavery, and began the long road of recovery for American blacks and the nation. Americans need to know about that war, and understand it.

The Hancock mural may be cheesy, but all reminders of our history are useful. Lately there have been episodes where foolish officials have behaved as if the mere mention of one of the most important events in American history is “offensive.” Last week, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University announced that they will no longer refer to games between their athletic teams in their long-standing rivalry as the “Civil War,” because, UO director of athletics Rob Mullens said in a meaningless statement, “We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War.”

Salvagno’s reasoning for destroying the property was rock-dumb but familiar. The mayor said he is concerned about the message conveyed by the flag, and that the images could have sparked anger if the George Floyd mobs came  to the small town. Continue reading

End Of Week Ethics Clean-Up!

I blame Woodrow Wilson.

I like to start the week with a clean slate, especially now, when the George Floyd Freakout finds new ways to shatter previous standards of public decorum, civic decency, and respect for nation and community. However, despite over 3,000 words in three posts today, I still had to leave several stories on the bench that I wanted to explore.

Here they are:

ITEM: “18 shot in 24 hours as spike in gun violence in NYC continues”

What a coinky-dink! As soon as  Bill De Blasio, one of those Democratic mayors that Philip Bump says did nothing to make his city more violent, disbanded the NYPD’s  anti-crime unit, the city  had an explosion of shootings. Police said a total of 70 people were shot this week, compared to 26 the same week last year.

This is what more communities have to look forward to as a result of city officials across the country putting their virtue-signaling embrace of white guilt and Black Lives Matter ahead of the welfare of citizens.

ITEM: “New Jersey politicians charged in massive mail-in ballot voter fraud scheme, face years in prison”

Of course,  corruption in New Jersey politics is hardly news, but this story is ironic as Democrats are claiming that Republican opposition to mail-in voting is motivated by a desire to suppress election participation rather than a legitimate concern about the ease of voter fraud.

“New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal charged Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, and two other men after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerted the state attorney general’s office that it had found hundreds of ballots from a special election last month stuffed in a single Paterson City mailbox,” InsiderNJ reported. According to WNBC-TV, more than 3,000 ballots were set aside over voting fraud concerns in the Paterson City Council election — 16,747 were received, but only 13,557 were accepted — meaning a whopping 19%, or nearly 1-in-5, were rejected. More than 800 of the rejected ballots were invalidated because they were found tethered together in mailboxes. This was especially significant because the margins in two of the contests were razor thin.

I had a devil of time finding out the party affiliation of the politicians charged in multiple news sources. That usually means that it’s a Democratic scandal. It was.

ITEM:Denver “proactively” removes Kit Carson statue from downtown monument ahead of protests” Continue reading

My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part II: The Case For Expunging Wilson [Corrected]

Woodrow Wilson’s name should have never been put on

Yet President Wilson ended up being honored by having his name plastered on buildings, schools and bridges (like here in Washington, D.C) more than most Presidents, in part because influential Democratic historians, notably Kennedy family flack Arthur Schlesinger Jr., pushed the false narrative that he was a great idealist and a great leader. This required burying Wilson’s well-documented record as a racist, though the rest of his record wasn’t great either.

In Part I, I gave the official Ethics Alarms argument for not tearing down honors to Wilson now that Black Lives Matters and its allies are in full Soviet/Maoist cultural bulldozing mode. When Wilson is gone, I see little stopping the mob from tearing down Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials next, to name just one example of where this slippery slope leads.

Despite leading our nation through an existential depression and World War II, FDR had his own black marks regarding racism and discrimination, arguably as many as Wilson. In  1916, a document was discovered  showing that  Roosevelt, as Wilson’s Deputy Secretary of the Navy, personally signed an order segregating bathrooms in the Navy Department. As President, FDR wouldn’t allow his black and white White House servants to eat together.  Everyone knows (or should) that he imprisoned about 70,000 American citizens because they were Japanese, and just last year, “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust” revealed  archival evidence of FDR’s callous and bigoted treatment of European Jews prior to and during the Holocaust.  Franklin Roosevelt was a racist and an anti-Semite. When we get into retroactively dishonoring Presidents virtually all of them are at risk.

However, there are persuasive arguments that Wilson is a special case. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 6/28/2020: For The Defense….

Greetings from the Ethics Alarms bunker…

1. I’m current reflecting on a personal and professional ethics conflict. A colleague and long-time professional competitor—I would never call him a friend—has been ousted from his leadership position in the very successful organization he founded as a result of unproven allegations of sexual harassment and assault. It was a “believe all victims” situation, as well as what feels like a successful coordinated effort to “get” someone who had accumulated a lot of enemies, resentment and envy in a notoriously nasty industry once his power was waning.

On one hand, I feel like I should reach out to him and offer my guidance and support (as an ethicist and sexual harassment trainer, not a lawyer, and gratis, of course). On the other, I am pretty certain that he is guilty of at least some of what has been alleged, based on confidential accounts I have recently heard from reliable sources. Ethically, however, his ousting (it appears that he was given the option of “retiring”) lacked due process and fairness, and the organization was guided by public relations motives rather than legal or ethical ones.

Whose side should I be on?

2. Stop making me defend Facebook! As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, the aggressive pandering mode of corporations right now is being exploited by would-be censors of political speech. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced updated election policies and stricter “hate speech” rules in response to employee protests and pressure from activists, whose transparent objective is to silence or constrict any political views antithetical progressive positions and goals. In a message last week, Zuckerberg  outlined plans to police disinformation relating to voting and elections, to flag certain content that risked triggering violence (I wonder what  that standard is like today?) and concluded,

Continue reading

My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part I: The Case For Woodrow

Reviewing, I see that the original Black Lives Matter attack on American values, history and culture first broke out in 2015. Then as now, Democrats rushed to embrace the racist group’s anti-white, anti-police and anti-America agenda, seeking, as usual, to enamor itself with its base. That was also the first time Princeton University was urged by student activists to remove honors to Wilson from the campus, though Wilson was not only a President of the United States (and according to Democrats until recently, one of the greatest) but also a lauded president of Princeton. The 2015 calls for his airbrushing out of Princeton’s history coincided with many similar attempts, some successful, to dishonor past historical figures whose legacies or conformity with modern values had been called into question.

College campuses, not city streets, were ground zero in 2015. Yale and the University of Missouri led the madness. At Mizzou, black students manufactured racial outrage out of ambiguous and off-campus incidents, then engaged in what Ethics Alarms then termed  an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum (Hmmm! Still sounds pretty good!), demanding all sorts of special accommodations and race-based policies and hirings, and demanding the university president’s resignation. Thomas Wolfe did resign, giving us an early precedent for all the capitulation and cowardice we are seeing today. As we’re seeing today, intimidation, race-bullying and attacks on free expression and language were part of the assault:

  • Amherst students demanded a crack-down on any free speech in the form of criticism of Black Lives Matters or the protest goals.
  • Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matters members roamed through the campus library, verbally assaulting white students attempting to study.
  • Smith College held a sit-in, and barred reporters-–the new breed of campus freedom-fighters just don’t like that pesky First Amendment—unless they promised to cover the protest positively. .
  • Occidental College students occupied a three-story administration building, demanding “a series of actions ranging from racist to just unreasonable to oppressive” in the name of “safety” and “diversity”, of course. Predictably, the leftist faculty which helped make the students this way were fully supportive.Refresh your recollections with the list of student demands here; my favorites: demanding an increase in tenured black professors and black doctors; funding for the student group for black men, which is racist and counter-diverse by definition; and “elimination of military and police rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse.”

Why is this so familiar? Continue reading